The Club of the Century, Al Ahly secures third place in the 2021 FIFA Club World Cup with a win over South American champions Palmeiras.
The African and Egyptian champions overcame the loss to Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the FIFA Club World Cup to end the tournament as the 3rd best team behind champions Bayern and finalists Tigres UANL.
Pitso Mosimane’s side came out on top of Brazilian side Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras in a penalty shootout as the game could not be decided in regulation time. It was a hard-fought encounter between the two champion clubs but Palmeiras will feel hard done by.
The Brazilian champions lost on penalties as Al Ahly captain and goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy played the hero in the shootout to ensure victory for the Red Devils.
Palmeiras had more shots in the game and more possession as well but unfortunately, failed to capitalise on any of them.
It was the Egyptian side, however, that created the best chance in the game as Nigerian striker Junior Ajayi found the back of the net but was narrowly ruled offside. Al Ahly managed just 1 shot on target and Amr El Solia missed a golden opportunity when he was played through on goal but only managed to drag his shot wide.
A cagey affair meant that both teams failed to score sending the game into penalties after a 0-0 finish in the 90 minutes. No extra time meant a direct penalty shootout that was pretty nerve-wracking.
Al Alhy’s Amr El Solia and Marwan Mohsen failed to convert their penalties, however, Luiz Adriano’s poor penalty missed the target for Palmeiras and Rony’s tame effort was saved by Egyptian international El Shanawy.
Tied at 2-2, Junior Ajayi converted his penalty to give Al Ahly the lead with a cool and composed finish that found the roof of the net. Up stepped veteran Felipe Melo for Palmeiras but his penalty was saved by the Al Ahly captain to secure the victory for his side and ensure the team continued their top form under Pitso Mosimane who has only lost one game since taking charge of the side. The one loss came against Bayern Munich, which is nothing for them to be ashamed of.
In the post-match interview, Mohamed El Shanaway said, “From the start of the tournament, we all promised that every player will give his maximum effort in order to achieve a good position”. He went on to say, “Thankfully all our efforts paid off and we managed to win the bronze medal. We had a great game and we fought very hard to win the medal. Our coaching staff analysed Palmeiras very well. Every player in the team only focuses on doing what is best for the whole team.”
— Maximiliano Bretos (@MaxBretosSports) February 11, 2021
“The players’ spirit and determination to please our fans are the secrets behind the bronze medal,” added El Shenawy who was fantastic throughout the tournament.
The record 9-time African champions tied their best ever finish at the FIFA Club World Cup by finishing third, a feat the club achieved last in 2006. This performance was the best finish by an African club in the tournament since 2013 when Morocco’s Raja Casablanca finished as the runners up.
No African club has managed to win the FIFA Club World Cup yet with DR Congo’s TP Mazembe (in 2010) being the only other team apart from Raja Casablanca to have made the final of the tournament.
Al Ahly fans will hope that the treble-winning side can carry on this form and win the CAF Champions League once again.